MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online buzz

Don't forget to refresh the page for updates. Got a traffic tip? How about an up-coming event? Would love your feedback - email espillett@fairfaxmedia.com.au

8.30am That's it from us this morning. Have a fantastic weekend, enjoy every minute of it. Catch ya on Tuesday!

8.06am LOCAL NEWS: HMAS Albatross will become the home of a new helicopter training system for navy and army personnel.

*Here's the full story.

8.04am STRANGE BUT TRUE: Apparently Tutankhamun had buck teeth, a club foot & "girlish features", a new autopsy has revealed.

8.02am Don't forget it's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Have you bought your pink ribbon yet?

8am NSW: The Sydney student who leaked information about a fashion school scholarship controversially awarded to the daughter of Prime Minister Tony Abbott sincerely believed she was acting in the public interest and was unaware she was breaking the law. Read more.

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a chance of showers and a thunderstorm this afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.

7.56am Another Friday funny for you - a great ad campaign!

7.54am The Mercury is proud to support many community activities and events, including sponsorship of charitable, sporting, cultural and arts events. Want us to sponsor your event? Click here for more information.

7.52am British comedian Jimmy Carr has copped a barrage of abuse on social media after an unsavoury joke about Oscar Pistorius' motives for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

7.50am EW: KFC has just revealed a burger that comes sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken. There. are. no. words.

7.48am LOCAL NEWS: Two innocent men caught up in a car rebirthing investigation are in limbo over ownership of the same vehicle, a court has heard. The men, both legitimate owners of a previously stolen Nissan 200SX, are locked in negotiations with police about who has the right to take possession of the car, Port Kembla Local Court heard on Thursday.

*Reporter Michelle Webster has the story.

7.46am Check out this dog dancing to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off - CUTE!

7.44am The program for the 2015 Sydney Festival has been revealed - and it looks good. Check it out here.

7.42am LOCAL SPORT: It hasn’t been an easy road for Wollongong’s rising golf star Jordan Zunic but the young gun is hopeful of joining the pro circuit by Christmas.

7.40am Would you eat a low-carb burger bun? Grill'd has introduced the country's first low-carb bun and it looks a little like, well, cardboard.

7.38am NSW: The government has sought to distance itself from claims by the Treasurer that Sydney's 41 councils should be reduced to five. Read more.

7.36am It's a week today until Halloween - will you be trick or treating?

7.34am WORLD NEWS: A doctor who recently returned to New York from West Africa has been rushed to hospital with a fever to be tested for possible Ebola, the city's health department says.

7.32am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Lady Gaga has reportedly bought a house with a bat cave - looks like she's dressed up early for Halloween too.

7.30am This marching band in the US has nailed Beyonce's Single Ladies - check it out, hilarious!

7.28am NATIONAL: The Australian Taxation Office says it has cut more than 500 jobs from its crucial auditing team as it tries to meet the federal government's budget cuts.

7.26am Want to win a People for Plants skincare pack? Enter here.

7.24am TV NEWS: What do Louie from The Simpsons and Frank Carbone from Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas have in common? A lot, according to actor Frank Sivero who played Carbone in the 1990 film. To Sivero their likeness is so great that he has filed a $250 million lawsuit, claiming the creators of The Simpsons based Louie, the Springfield mobster, on the Goodfellas character.

7.22am Don't forget Rude, Crude & Musical is on this weekend at City Diggers.

7.20am A little Friday funny for you - anybody else guilty of this?

7.18am LOCAL SPORT: St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor believes the burning desire to play alongside twin brother Josh was always going to trump anything the Dragons could offer departing winger Brett Morris.  

7.16am STRANGE BUT TRUE: The Zimbabwe students' union on Thursday made war not love over a new code of conduct banning students from kissing on campus at the country's top university. Read more.

7.14am TIARA ALERT: A guard has been arrested at Buckingham Palace for having ammunition in his locker.

7.10am LOCAL NEWS: Essential Employment and Training hosted its Sky's The Limit Mini Olympics on Thursday as part of work helping people with a disability.

*Greg Ellis has the story.

7.08am It's time for a little game of 'anywhere but here'. I'd rather be ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Sigh.

7.06am SPORT: David Warner is closing in on his third consecutive Test ton, but Australia have little margin for error if they are to avoid a shock defeat after their spin twins were punished by Pakistan yesterday.

7.04am WORLD NEWS: The contract murder of Australian-British expatriate Bob Ellis cost his wife about $15,000, Bali police have revealed. A police spokesman said that Mr Ellis' Indonesian wife, Julaikah Noor Aini, paid 150 million rupiah to a group of people to secure her husband's death. Read more.

7.02am Don't forget the Foragers Markets are on this Sunday.

7am Three Chimneys has a new range of juices, smoothies & iced teas. Yum!

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you're just tuning in. We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a chance of showers and a thunderstorm this afternoon. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am STRANGE BUT TRUE: A 73-year-old drama teacher fired by a private school for appearing in erotic French films some 40 years ago says she doesn't regret the performances — but she's furious she lost her job after male students discovered them. Read more.

6.54am LOCAL NEWS: The contractor renovating Austinmer’s ocean pools has been told to fast-track the work in a bid to get them ready for the start of summer, Wollongong City Council’s project manager said.

*Reporter Ben Langford has the story.

6.52am The QANTAS AGM is on today & the CEO could score himself a $2.5 million bonus. Wouldn't that be nice!?

6.50am MUSIC NEWS: Aussie band Sheppard have performed on the Ellen show in the US, in the hope of cracking the American market. Read more.

6.48am Love live music? So do we - check out this week's Radar column for all the latest live music news.

6.46am WORLD NEWS: The standing ovation began even before Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers entered the Canadian Parliament chamber in his black robe - lawmakers applauded for the former Mountie, hailed as a hero for shooting the gunman who had stormed Canada's seat of power just a day earlier.

6.44am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Kim Kardashian has said daughter North will have to "work for what she wants" - no silver platter here!

6.42am Don't forget the Garage Sale Trail is on this Saturday - we got a peak inside one woman's Gwynneville garage ahead of the sale.

6.40am Speaking of the HSC, I love this story this morning as it's something I used to say all the time while I was studying - when will we use Year 12 maths in the outside world? #neverusedit #wasteoftime

6.38am The HSC continues today. Good luck to all sitting exams.

6.36am TIARA ALERT: Kate Middleton has showed off her little baby bump in a black knit dress on her third public appearance since announcing her pregnancy.

6.34am Did you get to the opening of the new Mexican restaurant in GPT yesterday? They were giving out free burritos & there was a 45-minute wait at one point. Wowser. Max Brenner opens today.

6.32am LOCAL SPORT: The Hawks were destroyed 94-73 by the Adelaide 36ers on Thursday night at Adelaide Arena. Boo! Don't forget the boys are playing at home on Sunday from 2pm.

6.30am A little blatant self-promotion for Fairfax Media - we've scored 17 nominations for this year's Walkley Awards.

6.28am CELEB NEWS: Zach Galifinakis is at it again, interviewing celebs for his intentionally awkward web series Between Two Ferns. This time, he's interviewed Brad Pitt - and it's hilarious. Quote: "is it hard for you to get a suntan living in your wife's shadow?" BURN!

6.26am Love jaffles & love breakfast? Great, then you'll ADORE this recipe for a brekkie jaffle - yum!

6.24am LOCAL NEWS: A judge has agreed to suspend a prison sentence handed to a Koonawarra man who threatened his former high school friend with a beer bottle while demanding his cash.

*Court reporter Shannon Tonkin has the details.

6.22am BACHIE NEWS: Louise & Blake have shared some photos of their lovely trip to Thailand together because well, they can.

6.20am Have you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out this week's social photos - you never know who you might spot.

6.18am NATIONAL: Both the United States and the United Kingdom have asked Australia to send personnel to West Africa to help combat the deadly Ebola virus, foreign affairs officials have told a Senate hearing.

6.16am In some other celeb news this morning, Orlando Bloom has shrugged off rumours he is dating Selena Gomez after they were spotted at an airport together. He said they were simply attending the same event. Hmm.

6.14am Diary date readers: November 2 is the Rock n Vintage Roll festival in Thirroul. Sounds fun! We spoke to co-organiser Bethany McCarthy about it.

6.12am MOVIE NEWS: The trailer for The Avengers 2 has leaked early - watch it here. The movie is not due out for months.

6.10am WORLD NEWS: The authorities on Wednesday provided a broad account of the apparent abduction of 43 college students last month in southern Mexico, saying the police attacked them on orders of the mayor and his wife out of fear they were going to disrupt a speech she was giving.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Jennifer Lopez has snapped up a $22 million apartment in New York - and it stretches across an entire block.

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*The Abbott government is offering to ditch or delay the most controversial elements of its sweeping higher education reforms to secure a deal with the Senate cross-benchers to allow universities to set their own fees.

*The head of Christian Schools Australia has berated NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli for insulting religious schools by suggesting some turn their back on needy students despite their wealth.

*Security around Parliament House in Canberra has been boosted in the wake of the shooting attack in Canada, which Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says bears the hallmarks of an Islamic State terrorist attack.

6.04am Here's what's making news in your Mercury today:

*A doctor at Wollongong Skin Cancer Clinic is under investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission after several patients have come forward with stories of scarring and infection. Read more.

*BlueScope will soon have to form a community consultation committee to bring the public greater information on the steelmaker’s environmental workings, under conditions set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

*Families rushed to the grave sites of friends and loved ones at Bulli on Thursday morning, as news filtered through the community of another act of mindless, ‘‘frightening’’ cemetery vandalism. Read more.

6.02am Let's kick things off with the latest weather & traffic

WEATHER We're in for a partly cloudy day with a top of 24 degrees. There is a chance of showers and a thunderstorm this afternoon. Expect strong winds. We're shaping up for a fairly similar weekend - top of 26 tomorrow & 21 on Sun.

TRAFFIC All clear on our roads & for the run to Sydney.

TRAINS There is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning Illawarra! TGIF, we made it to the weekend! Yippee! I'm staring down the barrel of a three-day weekend & I CAN'T WAIT! Hope you've all got weekend plans. Stay with your host, Emma Spillett, this morning for all the latest news etc.

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